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|“||I’m not the protagonist of a novel or anything. I’m just a college student who likes to read, like you could find anywhere. But... if, for argument’s sake, you were to write a story with me in the lead role, it would certainly be... a tragedy.||„|
|~ Ken Kaneki|
Ken Kaneki is the main protagonist of Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul:re.
Formerly a human who was studying Japanese Literature at Kamii University and was living a normal life, everything was soon changed after he had Rize's kakuhou transplanted into him and became a One-Eyed Ghoul. After joining Anteiku as a part-time waiter, he learns how to live as a Ghoul and became known as Eyepatch.
After being captured by Aogiri Tree, he was able to accept his ghoul side, forming a team with the goal of protecting the ones precious to him and "plucking out" people who threaten the place he belongs to. Because of his Kakuja's distinct appearance, the CCG gave him the nickname Centipede.
He lived under the identity of instagram @HaiseSasaki, as a Rank 1 Ghoul Investigator, serving as the mentor of the CCG's Quinx Squad and a member of Team Mado. His memories were initially lost to him, but regained during the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation.
Although being the main protagonist, Kaneki gradually becomes more of an anti-hero, ending up committing a variety of terrible acts over the course of the series as his more ruthless and troubled personality traits show themselves.
He and Haise are voiced by Natsuki Hanae in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Austin Tindle in the English version of the anime.
As a child, Kaneki had all the same features he has now as an adult. As a normal university student, Kaneki is a scrawny young man with little to no athletic background who prefers to read books. In his free time, he wears casual clothes.
At work, he wears the standard Anteiku waiter uniform, consisting of black trousers and a grey waistcoat over a white dress shirt, and a brown necktie. Because he couldn't properly control his single kakugan that manifests in his left eye, he wore a medical eye patch to cover it.
His ghoul mask shows resemblance to a leather gimp mask with an eye patch. It bares a lipless mouth that shows large, gnashing teeth, much like a restrained asylum monster. The bolts sticking out of his neck and the fact that he is an artificial ghoul gives him a Frankenstein theme.
After being tortured by Yamori for a period of ten days, his hair became white and his nails turned black due to heavy stress, anxiety, and continuous bodily regeneration. He also began wearing a form fitting black outfit when he had the intention of fighting as a ghoul, both for intimidation and practicality.
After the timeskip, his white hair is now adorned by black streaks which have grown out from the center of his head, and his nails are no longer black. Similar to the other Ghoul Investigators, Kaneki is seen well dressed in the standard suit and tie most of the time. When embarking on missions, he wears a white trench coat over his uniform and occasionally carries a briefcase with him.
In the oneshot, Kaneki's appearance is relatively the same, except has a more muscular build, and instead of a leather mask with an eyepatch, he wears a plan white mask with exaggerated teeth and lips with one eye in the form of a plus, and the other a heart. It strangely resembles a clown mask.
Kaneki a shy boy, with Hide being his only close friend. He usually spends most of his time reading books, mostly novels. He is extremely gentle and appears to be optimistic most of the time. Influenced by his mother and a true testament of modesty, he willingly takes blame and punishment from others so that he can be someone who doesn't hurt people, but rather "the person getting hurt". However, this lack of assertiveness normally gets him bullied and taken advantage of.
However, beneath his selfless and gentle nature is an underlying fear of being alone. Ever since his mother died, Kaneki has developed his personality to resemble his mother's. He despises the idea of solitude, hence he tries to protect those dear to him so he would not have to face his fears of being alone in the world.
This is perhaps his greatest weakness and act of selfishness. Since Kaneki is always trying to protect others, he is essentially trying to protect himself from becoming alone again. Therefore to escape that scenario, he would shoulder the task of protecting others onto himself without looking for others to help him. This is also the reason why Kaneki seems to reject the notion of "living" because to him, watching others die before him is the beginning of returning to those lonely days without anyone behind him.
After he was turned into a half-ghoul, he clings to his human side. To keep his life in the human world, he began to work at Anteiku and had built relationships with the ghouls there. Because of his experiences, he had started to have interest in becoming stronger and began reading martial art books so that he could protect himself and the people close to him. He was troubled with the fact that he is a half-ghoul and is searching for a place he can belong to. If people close to him are threatened, Kaneki will try to protect them even if he is the one who gets hurt the most instead.
After his time being held captive during the Aogiri arc and undergoing constant torture by the hands of Yamori, Kaneki's personality changes. He becomes more ruthless and brutal in order to protect his friends, all the while maintaining complete composure. He no longer fears his ghoul side and as a result, he becomes much more cold and barbaric during battles such as when he began eating Yamori's kagune in order to strengthen himself. By embracing his ghoul nature wholeheartedly, Kaneki has given up being "human".
While still capable of showing his previous gentle nature to those he cares about, he can automatically turn merciless with a blink of an eye against his enemies or those he does not trust, such as Tsukiyama. Banjou hypothesized that Kaneki has developed some form of mental instability during his time in the 11th ward and that this would gradually wear him down.
After raiding Kanou's lab and attacking Banjou, Kaneki begins to revert back to his old personality from before the Aogiri Arc. However he enters a period of soul-searching, seeking to reclaim his human side as well as becoming uncertain about the path he has taken to become stronger. He also starts to really question and seek answers from individuals such as Uta, Yomo, and Yoshimura in order to understand the incidents that have happened around him since he turned into a ghoul.
Whenever he is near-starvation and loses control of his Kagune or kakuja, he seems to develop a personality that emulates Rize and Yamori.
As Haise, Kaneki is a self-contained, good-natured individual. He comes off as trustworthy, loyal and devoted. While he portrays a serious demeanor towards his work, Haise is also merciful to some extent, as he believes that an Investigator should not annihilate ghouls unnecessarily. Though he is hailed as the mentor of Quinx, he shows apportioned respect and great concern for his colleagues, pledging a protective streak over them. He also complies with the obligations assigned by his seniors without hesitation. Haise habitually reads books, and is very co-operative, as he’d prefer to work with his group than to single-handedly accomplish the CCG’s goals. Haise has a habit of using puns, shown by his conversation with Akira Mado in the Naan restaurant. He also tends to scratch the back of his head when he is thinking hard or feeling uncomfortable.
Because of Haise’s gentle persona, this leads his subordinates to constantly go out of their way and take the advantage of disobeying him, rendering him incompetent in controlling their actions, and he in turn worries about their safety. Also, unlike Kaneki who accepted his ghoul side, Haise rejects it and seem to be disgusted by his ghoul side as when it tried to convince him to accept it, he ignored it and thought of his mentors to give him courage.
However, during his encounter with Serpent, Haise relapsed back into his old persona, brutally wounding Serpent with his Kagune, even cracking his fingers, a habit that Kaneki had done in the past after being tortured by Yamori.
Powers and Abilities
- Ghoul Physiology: After the Steel Beam Incident, Kaneki transformed into an artificial one-eyed ghoul, developing ghoul powers and abilities after receiving Rize's kakuhou. He struggled to control his powers, due to his mental state, and started off as being rather weak. Overtime, however, he has learned how to control them and eventually surpass his opponents.
- Rinkaku Kagune: Kaneki received a rinkaku kagune, after having Rize's kakuhou transplanted inside of him. He initially had trouble adapting to using to them, but was fully able to make good use of them once he fought Yamori. Kaneki's rinkaku has changed throughout the series, in which he's been to grow more tendrils and they would develop different visuals to them, depending on the amount of humans and ghouls he's consumed. His kagune has also developed unique abilities as he was recently able to develop a sword in the shape of his quinque from his kagune.
- Rinkaku Kakuja: Ever since his first consumption from the ghoul, Yamori, Kaneki has developed a rinkaku kakuja, which has went through various changes from the amount of other kakujas he's consumed. In addition to this, his kakuja has developed into becoming stronger and more powerful than before.
- Superhuman Strength: Kaneki seems to have a high-level degree of superhuman strength due to Kaneki, ability to lift heavy things. And survive when fell into a rock or a hard concrete wall.
- Superhuman Mobility: Kaneki has developed speed that surpasses humans. His speed allows him to blitz through large groups of opponents in a matter of short time. Very few people have been to rival with and surpass his speed and those that do are usually half-human and half-ghoul hybrids such as Furuta, Arima, Takizawa and Eto.
- High-Level Pain Immunity: Kaneki has developed a large resistance to pain, ever since his transformation into a ghoul. While he can still be injured, he has taken injuries that can be considered fatal, such as having his limbs sliced off, his eyes stabbed out completely and more.
- High-Level Pain Tolerance: Ever since he was tortured, Keneki was able to handle a lot of pain without showing signs of pain such as when Yakumo Oomori twisted his leg, breaking it but Keneki was still able to kick him.
- Supernatural Regeneration: Kaneki inherited this power to Rize Kamishiro due to Kamishiro's ability to regenerate faster to avoid death. He has been to regenerate both massive wounds done to him, as well as limbs. He initially had difficulty regenerating certain parts of his body, as his arms were not fully healed when they were cut off by Arima, but after his experience as the Dragon, he was able to fully regenerate them.
- High Intelligence: Kaneki is an extremely intelligent person. Most his knowledge comes from his fixation on reading books. He has also been able to connect reality with the novels he reads from Sen Takasuki. He is also cunningly smart and tactical when in combat, which is one of the few reasons why the CCG looks at him as an impressive ghoul investigator.
- Martial Arts: Kaneki is extremely aggressive fighter due to his ghoul physiology and always reading about martial arts and other defensive skills. He is an excellent combatant when it comes to swordsmanship, as Arima trained him well and noted his improvements.
- Eyepatch Mask: Kaneki's iconic ghoul mask, made and given by Uta. He wears this mask whenever he is in combat with ghoul investigators, as well as to hide his identity. It is designed with an eyepatch that covers his regular eye, while his ghoul eye is left exposed.
- Yukimara 1/3: Sasaki's personal quinque weapon, which he received from Arima. It is a long-bladed weapon that can cut through ghouls easily.
- Even if he was turned into an artificial half ghoul, it did not affect his reproductive organs. Thus his daughter is a natural half ghoul (since his wife is a natural ghoul) who can enjoy human food, something he is very happy about since he lost his own ability to eat human food.
- In the anime, Kaneki joins the Aogiri Tree.
- Kaneki ranked second in character popularity with his Haise Sasaki being third.
- Ken is similar to Allen Walker from D.Gray-man and Hajime Nagumo from Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou (From Commonplace to World's Strongest).